Great Britain finished top with an average score of 79.979, leaving former champions Germany on 78.216 to settle for silver, and Holland to take bronze with 77.124.
Dujardin clinched the historic victory with a score of 83.286 in her final ride for Britain’s first ever Olympic dressage medal.
Remarkably, the 27-year-old only began competing at elite level less than two years ago, and of her relative inexperience she said: “It’s surreal because obviously I only started in January last year and I got a gold medal at the Europeans and it was the ultimate dream to get here and ride here.”
Hester, who also had a spectacular run on Utopia, admitted to feeling the pressure of the favourite tag. She said: “This is my fourth Olympics, and it’s actually a very weird feeling for me, because three Olympics I’ve gone with no expectations and it’s actually quite easy to ride like that.
“To come to an Olympics where we were possibly expected to get a gold medal gave me a frightening feeling, and I quite enjoyed it.”
Dujardin, Hester and Bechtolsheimer compete in the individual dressage grand prix final tomorrow.
British windsurfer Nick Dempsey won silver in the RS:X class yesterday to banish painful memories of his fourth place finish in Beijing. Dutchman Dorian van Rijsselberge took gold, with Poland’s Przemyslaw Miarczynski winning bronze. Dempsey said: “It has taken me a long time to get over that [Beijing] and I think I am over it – just about. I always believed I could come and do well.”